Share This Page
NFL

Ravens 'excited' as New Orleans, Super Bowl await

| Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 6:22 p.m.
Ravens rookie kicker Justin Tucker finds a creative way to carry his helmet during practice at the team's training facility in Owings Mills, Md., on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. AP Photo/Gail Burton

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The music blared in the Baltimore Ravens' locker room Saturday as the players threw their football gear into black duffel bags lying in front of their cubicles.

Next stop, New Orleans.

After one final practice at their training facility, the Super Bowl-bound Ravens will take Sunday off before heading for the Big Easy on Monday afternoon in anticipation of their matchup Feb. 3 against the San Francisco 49ers.

“We're right where we want to be,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “Now we have an opportunity to play in the big one. But at the end of the day, we're still getting ready for a football game.”

Coach John Harbaugh conducted practice from Thursday through Saturday as if it was a normal work week. They went hard Thursday and Friday and eased up Saturday.

“We've had a great week. We had an excellent practice,” Harbaugh said after the closed two-hour session. “The guys are very sharp, and they're excited. We'll have to go down there and do just as well (or) do better.”

The next time the Ravens hit the practice field, it will be in New Orleans. This week, there were no distractions.

“I think it's always important to have a good practice no matter what,” Harbaugh said. “You've got to practice well to play well. You pretty much play the way you practice. That's something that we learned when we were kids, and that's not going to change.”

It was final practice at the team's training complex for Ray Lewis, who intends to retire after the Super Bowl. Center Matt Birk has made no such announcement, but there is a possibility the 36-year-old also is preparing for his last game.

“I don't think like that,” Birk said. “I just try to live in the moment. That's just kind of my mindset. I don't think about the future or if this could be it. It drives my wife nuts, but that's just not how I operate.”

Now in his 15th NFL season, Birk's knees are scarred from several operations, and he had surgery during the offseason to repair varicose veins in his legs.

But he played in all 16 games during the regular season and remained solid in the middle of the offensive line during the postseason.

“I'm not sure about Matt's plans,” Harbaugh said. “If he decides to come back next year, that would be awesome. He's smart. He's tough. To my eye, he's playing the best football that he's played since he's been here, right now. To have that be true at the end of a (long) season is very impressive. We would not be where we are without Matt Birk.”

Looking ahead to the challenge next Sunday, Harbaugh called the 49ers “a very well-coached football team.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.